Tuesday May 24, 2016

Time flies when you’re having fun. (Or, as I prefer to say it, time’s fun when you’re having flies. Incidentally, we’ve not seen any flies to speak of in the places we’ve visited so far, even local markets where raw meat is openly on display. Could possibly have something to do with Chairman Mao having launched an all-out attack on flies during his Cultural Revolution back in the 70s. That’s my theory, for what it’s worth …)

Anyway, it was almost a week ago that we flew to Yichang on the shores of the Yangtze – Asia’s greatest and China’s longest river – then drove in the dark to the nearby port of Maoping where our cruise ship, the mv Victoria Lianna was docked. We were trumpeted aboard by the welcoming crew and shown to our cabins. Then at some stage in the night (we must’ve been asleep) the ship motored out into the current.

Our much anticipated Yangtze Cruise was underway!

For thousands of years the Yangtze has served as the main highway into China’s vast interior – which is where we were heading. And, when we woke for breakfast next morning, the Lianna was sailing through the Xiling Gorge (the longest and deepest of the famous Three Gorges, renowned for its grand rapids and odd rock formations).

We stopped soon after, were ferried ashore by small boat, then trekked for an hour or two up this beautiful river valley, made all the more beautiful and mysterious by the light misty rain. We followed our guide along wooden walkways, under gorgeous drooping/dripping greenery, past waterfalls and weird sculptures, over stone bridges. I got the chance to ride in a coolie-chair – then we all got the chance to meet some local tribal folk (the Tujia), catch a glimpse of life in canyon-land, witness a mock-marriage, and spot of troop of Yangtze monkeys.

That afternoon, following lunch back on board ship, we parked-up again – this time for a visit to the huge Three Gorges Dam: the world’s biggest construction project and the world’s largest power-producing facility. The sheer scale of this hydro-electric monster blew our minds – well, it would’ve if the rain hadn’t got heavy, making it hard to see anything much in the grey murk! But, with the help of a scale-model at the tourist centre, we got the general idea. Then, once we resumed cruising, we got up close, very close actually, as we passed through the five massive shipping locks.

That took about four hours, it did, by which stage we were ready for dinner (in the ship’s ‘Executive Restaurant’, set aside for our group and a handful of stray Poms) – wrapped up by some costumed cultural dancing by the crew.

STILL TO COME: Day #2 on the Victoria Lianna – featuring the Wu Gorge, the Shennong Stream and the ancient White Emperor City – don’t miss it, whatever you do!


  • Four confused Kiwis got to share our ‘Breaking & Entering’ Award for trying to get into the wrong rooms in the latest of many hotels we’ve already stayed in. Tony & Barbara sought very determinedly to open the door to room 802, before remembering that theirs was room 716. And Grant and Catherine actually walked into what they thought was their room on the 8th floor, puzzled as to why the door was open and even more puzzled as to what two others from our group were doing inside, sitting on their bed! Oh dear …
  • Bob received our ‘Dumpling’ Award – for murdering an innocent pork bun at our Sichuan restaurant a couple of nights ago. By the time Bob had finished digging his sticky dumpling out of the basket with his wildly wielded chopsticks, the puffy white delicacy was slashed, mashed and totally unrecognisable.

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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